Sunday, April 29, 2012

Field Experience Day 18 - April 20th, 2012

            Reflection on Lesson:

            The lesson that was presented to the St. Mary’s 2nd grade class focused on catching and passing in the unit of Lacrosse. A different skill theme was chosen to substitute a lack of transfer of weight in the new unit. Miss. Fredrickson and I felt it was appropriate to continue with the pace of Mr. Mack’s curriculum plan. After assessing the psychomotor domain of the students we now turned our attention to assessing the student’s cognitive and affective skills. The lesson plan was created after observing and assisting Mr. Mack on the introductory lesson of lacrosse. Since we were unfamiliar with the sport of lacrosse, Mr. Mack was extremely helpful guiding us on what should be taught next and where to find information on the unit.

             Prior to the lesson, Miss. Fredrickson and I felt confident and comfortable after a significant amount of preparation. The students were better behaved which I believe was accomplished by better behavior management strategies and the familiarity of myself and Miss. Fredrickson. The lesson itself went extremely well. There was smooth transitioning and an opportunity to establish teaching by invitation. Some students were also given an intra-task variation through observation of seeing certain students struggle with the tasks.

 The students began the lesson with an instant activity of GB (Ground Ball) Frenzy. Students was handed a lacrosse stick and divided into two teams that were positioned at each end line of the gymnasium. Before we went any further with the instant activity we reviewed the safety rules of space awareness and the student’s responsibility of holding their lacrosse sticks. Balls would be scattered in the center of the gymnasium. When the whistle blew the students would have to run to puddle of balls picking up one ball at a time with their lacrosse stick and dropping them at their own ends barrel. The technique for picking up a ground ball with a lacrosse stick was demonstrated in a class prior to this lesson. The team that gathered the most balls in their barrel would win that round. Since Miss. Fredrickson and I were counting the balls in the barrels we made it so that each team won a round regardless of the outcome.

            After the instant activity we established a responsibility task of putting away the balls and sitting in their attendance spots. The lacrosse stick was the first focus because it was more important to for the students to learn how to catch the ball before learning how to pass the ball. Passing the ball with a lacrosse stick before learning how to catch it would waste time with students having to chase the ball around the gymnasium. I had asked all students to place their lacrosse sticks in back of them and pay attention to the cues and the demonstration so that there would be no distractions. I presented the cues stick in front, eyes on the ball and stick head to shoulder while physically demonstrating the procedure in slow motion. I then had Miss. Fredrickson lightly toss a ball to me so the catch could be demonstrated in full speed. Before starting a task I again briefly reviewed the safety rules that were discussed during the instant activity. I partnered up the students and had them spread out across the gymnasium with their partners across from them. The students that were facing the stage of the gymnasium would be tossing the ball to their partner across from them. Students would switch roles after 7 tosses. After the first couple of minutes into this task I realized that students were not tossing the ball accurately to the students with the sticks. I quickly signaled for attention and had the students place their sticks on the ground. I explained to the students that the accuracy of the toss was just as important as catching the ball. I used a check for understanding as to why that statement I had just made was true. I had them continue this task for another 5 minutes before I introduced the focus of the pass. Teaching by invitation was used by giving the students the choice of distancing themselves if the task was too easy for them.

              There was not a whole lot of time left in the period so Miss. Fredrickson introduced passing with a lacrosse stick using the cues pointed toe step, elbows out, over head throw and a follow through while I demonstrated the technique in slow motion. We then integrated the two skills together with a demonstration with Miss. Fredrickson and I having a catch and pass with the lacrosse stick. The same task procedure was used having the students with their partner and catching and passing back and forth. This was performed only for a couple of minutes because we needed to sit the students down and distribute the cognitive and affective assessment. Knowing we may not have time to get into the details of the pass I did not focus that skill on the cognitive assessment. We had the students sit in back of one another in about four lines. The students were about 2 feet away from each other all facing the same wall.
             Reflecting back on this lesson, we realized that we needed to do a better job of time management. We rushed the second part of the lesson due to time constraints. Rushing is not an appropriate strategy especially when a cognitive assessment is being given. Also, the tasks involving the partners when passing was too difficult of a task and a simple task should have been established before going into this task. Student’s accuracy should have been a focus because students passing the ball to their partners had students running around chasing balls all over the gymnasium. Miss. Fredrickson and I came to the conclusion that this was one of our best teaching lessons moving forward as teacher candidates. As beginning teachers we will continue to learn strategies and organizational skills to better improve ourselves and become effective teachers.

Field Experience Day 17 - April 20th, 2012

            Knowledge of Students:

            The next class period at St. Mary’s was another class of pre-k students. The events were similar with the students going outside in the playground. I had the pleasure of experiencing and observing a fire drill with this group of students. As the fire alarm went off the students lined up quietly at the gate and were checked for attendance. They made their way out to the back of the school staying in their formed line onto the sidewalk where again they were checked for attendance. The students remained quiet the whole time and there were no disruptions. The fire department came as protocol and examined the entire school. After about twenty minutes the students were headed back to their pre-k classroom because the period was over.

            The knowledge of the students to follow a procedure that was practicing a couple of times within the year was remarkable. They were extremely well behaved knowing the importance of such a drill. Mr. Mack explained to me that they always emphasize on the importance of the drill and are always remind the students of the actions that need to be taken. Learning so much as a teach candidate it is often overlooked of such important drills. I was impressed with the learned knowledge of the students. I was glad to have experienced this situation from a teacher’s point of view.

Field Experience Day 16 - April 20th, 2012

            Management Strategies:

            The pre-k students at St. Mary’s elementary school today were again rewarded with a day outside in the playground due to nice weather. The playground is where I have seen most of Mr. Mack’s management strategies. The idea of going outside for the students gets them really excited and sometimes gets them to make bad decisions. There was no warm-up given to the pre-k students but the rules of the playground were reviewed prior to the students going outside. From past experience Mr. Mack knew that students liked to pick up the dirt in the playground and play around with it. He emphasized this rule and repeated it several times with checking for understanding.

            The majority of the class time was spent with Beka and me, playing freeze tag as well as hides and goes seek with the students to keep them as active as possible. The class was running smoothly with little to no behavior problems until the very end. A student was caught playing with the dirt by Mr. Mack. After Mr. Mack confronted the student explaining that it was not ok and they had broken an important rule the student began to cry. The student realized she was caught and wasn’t happy with the idea of being in trouble. If given the opportunity to be in Mr. Mack’s shoes there is not much I would have changed maybe just the tone of my voice. He was sufficient with getting the point across that she broke a rule. I believe any kind of confrontation would have made the student cry. The student was vulnerable, young and not use to getting into trouble.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Field Experience Day 15 - April 17th, 2012

Skill Themes and Student Abilities:

            The day continued at St. Mary’s Elementary school with the next class period involving the 2nd grade students. A new unit of Lacrosse was introduced by Mr. Mack. The students focused on the skill theme of catching and/or collecting in this particular unit. The opportunity to be a part of this lesson gave me some new insight on ideas I could create in my own lesson planning moving forward. Students began the class with a simple warm-up jogging 4 laps around the gymnasium, jumping jacks and push-ups.

            Beginning the lesson, Mr. Mack went over the importance of the student’s responsibility when holding a lacrosse stick. The teacher made sure all students were aware of their surroundings. The number one rule for students was they were not allowed at anytime to strike another student with a stick. Moving forward the first skill approached was the ability for a student to pick up a ground ball with a lacrosse stick. The cues to perform a successful ground ball scoop were knees bent; knuckles close to the ground and shovel snow. A lead-up game was organized called GB (groundball) Frenzy to help the students practice their ground ball pickups.

            The class was divided into two teams and both teams were placed on their own end line of the gymnasium. The teams starting at their own end lines would run to the center of the gymnasium where a puddle of balls would be scattered across the floor for them to pick up using the ground ball technique. They were only allowed to pick up one ball at a time and bring it back to their side’s end line. Each end line had a barrel in the middle where the balls were to be collected. The students who collected the most balls using the proper technique won the round. Mr. Mack and I counted the balls at the end of each round. No matter what the results were for either side we made it so that each team won a round.
            After observing and assisting this particular lesson plan, I found that the preparation and organization of the lesson was a great success. There is little I would change in the structure of the lesson. If I was to change anything it would be more individual congruent feedback during practice. Also, establishing intra-task variation for students that I observed having problems picking up groundballs. In order to establish these strategies more practice time and progression tasks could have been organized before the lead-up game. This would create opportunity for a higher success rate.

Field Experience Day 14 - April 17th, 2012

             Management Strategies:

            I had the opportunity to observe kindergarten students during my field experience session at St. Mary’s Elementary school today. The weather being a beautiful day influenced Mr. Mack to give the students an opportunity to play in the playground. Prior to going outside Mr. Mack had the students perform their daily warm-up with jogging four laps, jumping jacks and sit-ups. He also expressed the safety rules that were to be abided by the students once outside. To make sure the students were paying attention he used checking for understanding by asking questions about the safety rules he just reiterated.

            There were several events that occurred that involved managing behavior once we established a play session outside. Several students had come up to Mr. Mack and me tattling about situations that were not considered severe at all. This is common during the kindergarten grade level. Eventually, the large amount of tattling began to focus on one student in particular causing the problems. Mr. Mack pulled the student aside and spoke to him as a young adult expressing that many of the students have been coming up to him and that the students name was being mentioned often. The consequences were stated to the student and the student was warned that if changed didn’t occur those consequences would be enforced. The student shook his/her head yes as to acknowledge and went back to playing. No other mishaps occurred during the remainder of the class time.
            Reflecting back on the management strategy that Mr. Mack demonstrated in the playground, I would have added some additional strategies to the confrontation with the student. Through the knowledge I learned in EDU 355 it would have been appropriate to have the student recognize what he did wrong. Also, provide a problem solving task on how the student can improve on his misbehavior. After Mr. Mack had pulled the student to the side to have an individual conversation with him/her, Mr. Mack could have established checking for understanding questions on what the rules in the playground were. Other questions could also be mentioned regarding what the student that did wrong, may have violated the rules and what could the student do to prevent the situation again.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Field Experience Day 13 - April 3rd, 2012

Reflection on Lesson:

            Today my partner and I presented a lesson in the unit of gymnastics that focused on a cartwheel. Prior to this lesson, a pre-assessment of the cartwheel was given to the students at St. Mary’s. The evaluation of the data results helped us determine which students needed to improve on the cartwheel and which students were successful with the option of being demonstrators, peer teachers or have the ability to move on to another task. After discussing the results we decided that we would split the class into two groups.

Prior to splitting the class up the lesson focusing on the cartwheel was presented to the entire class. A visual aid was created and discussed in the beginning of the lecture. The visual aid displayed pictures of a cartwheel broken down into individual movements with labeled cues. Pinpointing was used by having a girl who was successful in the pre-assessment demonstrate a proper cartwheel. The demonstration was done twice once in slow motion and a second time with full speed. As the student demonstrated the cartwheel Miss Fredrickson repeated the cues as they occurred. At the end of the teaching instruction we established checking for understanding with the students by asking questions of what the cues are and ask the students what the safety rules were and why.

The students were then divided into two groups with Miss Fredrickson continuing assistance with the group who needed to improve on the cartwheel. I assisted and taught the advanced students in different skills in gymnastics. The students who needed improvement were given task progressions to help them perform a cartwheel. I had the students travel from station to station so they could practice tasks that were introduced in prior lessons but still needed to be worked on. These tasks consisted of climbing the rope, different roll approaches and routines on the balance beam. At each station I reviewed the skills to refresh their memories and had them perform tasks.

At the end of the lesson a post-assessment was given to all the students having them demonstrate another cartwheel to see if progress was made. The results of the post-assessment in comparison with the pre-assessment showed that two students that could not perform a cartwheel in the pre-assessment were able to perform one in the post-assessment after the lesson was instructed. Also the majority of the students who could not perform the cartwheel did however improve on individual critical elements. This expresses that with another day or two of practicing tasks could have increased the number of students performing the cartwheel.

Although I feel I have improved as an effective teacher moving forward there is always room for improvement. If given the opportunity to teach differently I would have partnered up the students that needed improvement with the students were successful during the pre-assessment. This would allow for peer teaching to have taken place which could help the development of all the students. The students that needed improvement would have had practice time with a peer that could have expressed encouragement. Students being peer teachers also help develop their cognitive and affective domain through recognition and cooperation.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Field Experience Day 12 - March 30th, 2012

            Assessment of Student Learning:

            Today at St. Mary’s the 2nd grade class continued the unit of gymnastics. Beka and I prepared a pre-assessment checklist for the cartwheel as we began our curriculum project focusing on the skill theme of transfer of weight. Mr. Mack allowed us to organize the class in a station format. We divided the students into four groups to allow for all the students to participate in different gymnastic activities for every station. The four stations had activities including a balance beam, rope climbing, rolls, tripods and cartwheels, which is where the pre-assessment took place.

           The first group of students provided their names prior to performing the cartwheel. Beka and I gave instructions to perform cartwheels down the length of the mat and provided a quick demonstration. These steps were repeated for each group. Students would rotate stations after the pre-assessment was completed for each group. During the observation of the student’s cartwheels I noticed that the boys seemed to have trouble performing the cartwheels as opposed to the girls. The results on the pre-assessment checklist expressed that eight out of the nine boys could not perform a cartwheel. Six of the eight girls however were able to perform the cartwheel successfully.

            The pre-assessment helped us evaluate where the 2nd grade class was prior to the upcoming lesson focus on the transfer of weight. This allows us to divide the class in half and have two groups of students. One group will learn the cartwheel while the other group who has performed the cartwheel sufficiently will move on to a more difficult task. It is also possible to use some of the students that performed the cartwheel successfully to demonstrate tasks that focus on transfer of weight. The lesson that will focus on the transfer of weight will be taught in the upcoming class.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Field Experience Day 11 - March 23rd, 2012

Visit to a Classroom:

1.      How is the classroom arranged and decorated?

The kindergarten classroom at St. Mary’s has many things going on along the walls and hanging from the ceiling. There are many colorful objects that represent letters of the alphabet and arrange able posters for the students to determine the days of the week, months, years and weather outside. Each student has their own cubby to store their belongings. The middle of the room has 4 circular tables labeled with each student’s name of where they sit. One corner of the room displays a chair for the teacher to sit with a carpet for the students to sit on when it is story time. The room is filled with supplies for arts and crafts, books and equipment for activities.

2.      How does the classroom differ from the gymnasium as an educational setting?

The classroom differs from the gymnasium as an educational setting due to the smaller space, tables, chairs, shelves filled with books and large amounts of information posted on the walls. The gymnasium is open with a large amount of space and free to do many different activities with the equipment provided.

3.      How would you describe the classroom atmosphere?

The atmosphere in the classroom is isolated with a high concentration of educational purposes. The information that is expressed through the decorations gives a feeling of being welcomed into the room. The students will always be learning once they enter the classroom.

4.      What was the topic and structure of the portion of the lesson you observed?

The teacher used management strategies by having the students clean up toys that they were playing with during a recess break. The topic and structure of the lesson concentrated on the letter K as well as the days and months of the year. The teacher gathered the students on the carpet and started off the lesson asking the students to help determine what day it was of what month and the year. She then asked the students what the weather was like outside. The remainder of the lesson the teacher read a couple of books that represented the letter K. The students were asked to emphasis the letter K every time a word with the letter K was mentioned in the books.

5.      How would you describe the language and literacy levels of the students?

From my observation the students were actively engaged throughout the lesson. I did not have the opportunity to see the students work on reading or writing. I was however able to observe the students talk and learn from the material provided to them. They had a good understanding of the language and spoke well themselves. Some students however were shy and didn’t speak. The teacher and students also interacted through sign language which I thought was extremely impressive at their ages. They picked it up so well and were quick with responses. There were some students however who had trouble remembering some of the signs and other students would help them out.

6.      How did the teacher engage the students in the lesson segment that you observed?

The students were engaged throughout the entire lesson. During every activity the teacher would stop to ask a question to certain students. Songs were sung as well that involved movement. The class ran smoothly and the students as well as the teachers seemed to be enjoying themselves.

7.      How would you describe the social behaviors of students in this age group?

The students at this age have a habit of telling on each other. Toys would be stolen instead of shared and students would be quickly come to me or one of the teachers to tell if a toy was taken from them. They are easily distracted, however when they are involved they are all in. The students varied in social skills where some students were always with a friend and others were by themselves. It was interesting to see the difference in social development in the students.

8.      What did you learn from this observation that will help you teach this age group more effectively?

At this particular age group it has come to my attention that students learn a smaller amount of information at a highly concentrated level. They spent a whole lesson on one letter as opposed to learning a various amount of information within one class. I learned that repetition is important when teaching this particular age group. Students at this age learn effectively through focusing and repeating on one subject. The enthusiasm of the teacher also plays a role in the motivation of the students learning. Students focus and interact with a teacher that has a great attitude and makes the learning experience fun and enjoyable. I also noticed that students at this age are familiar with structure and protocol. The appropriate management strategies will allow for a smooth transition into effective learning lessons.

9.      What other insights did you gain from this observation?

After observing the classroom I feel that I would be just as comfortable teaching in the classroom as I am in the gymnasium. I will be concentrating in other areas of study such as home economics and health to have a diverse approach to teaching. I do however feel that I am on the right career path moving forward. I enjoy teaching students in an atmosphere with open space and the ability to develop student’s knowledge of sport and life-long activities.